Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Learning to read

This Onkar Ghate story left me seeing red. The first paragraph pretty much spells out the whole thing:

The educational tragedy in Rockford, Illinois, now making national headlines, echoes a larger tragedy. At Lewis Lemon elementary school, with a student body described by The New York Times as "80 percent nonwhite and 85 percent poor," third graders scored near the top in statewide readings tests. Their results were bested only by students at a school for the gifted. How were the results achieved? Teachers used reading lessons "heavy on drilling and repetition, that emphasize phonics--that is, learning words by sounding them out." This approach, however, is deemed too extreme by the new school superintendent, who is phasing it out.
This is why I am unrelentingly hostile to public schools, and so grateful for the opportunity to pay lots of money to have my kids in a Montessori School, where they learn reading through phonics. The proponents of whole language like to point to the Chinese, which is not a phonic system, but rather a pictorial system. They note that Chinese students have to memorize tens of thousands of pictographs if they wish to be literate, and that the Chinese are a very literate people. What they neglect to point out is that the Chinese students drill up to 3 hours a day, six days a week to memorize each word. We are so blessed to have a phonetic alphabet. If you learn your phenomes, and are willing to put up with a few live wires (e.g., through, though, thought), you can read anything that comes your way. With this incredibly stupid whole language approach to reading, you're capable of reading only those few words you learn in 30-45 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week. How can we do this do our children? What excuse do we have for this kind of gratuitous cruelty to those who rely on us?